BY ISN STAFF | June 21, 2023
For three years, the immigration policy Title 42 blocked asylum seekers from entering the U.S., citing the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to deny the human right to asylum. When the policy ended in May 2023 and the Biden Administration put forth alternative restrictions to asylum that continue to harm those seeking safety, the Jesuit network took action to express their support for asylum seekers through both prayer and public witness.
One of these actions was spearheading and praying a Novena to Renew Our Asylum Promises, which was also available in Spanish. Just as Catholics renew their baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil, the novena called on the U.S. and on countries around the world to renew their asylum promises to offer respite to those fleeing situations of violence.
On May 7, 2023, the first day of the novena, parishioners from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in San Diego also gathered in front of the U.S. Immigration Enforcement building to pray in solidarity with the over 2 million people who have been expelled from the U.S. under Title 42.
There, they prayed the rosary, dedicating each decade to one of the four regions on the U.S.-Mexico border where Jesuit ministries serve and advocate for migrants: Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico; Brownsville, Texas; El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; and San Diego, California.
Across the country in Philadelphia, St. Vincent de Paul Parish also recognized the novena as well, making candles available to parishioners after the Spanish language mass so that they could light their own Easter candle as they prayed the novena at home.
“Solidarity is not just a feeling; it’s a tangible, resounding ‘I’m with you.’ And how do we do that? One of the ways we do that is prayer. This helps with the helplessness and hopelessness that can sometimes arise in the face of injustice that is so overwhelming,” said Tinamarie Stoltz, campus minister at St. Joseph’s University and parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul. “That connection and togetherness, to start in prayer and to go into action, is really important.”
Starting in prayer and culminating in action is a way forward for the Jesuit network to continue to support asylum seekers. “We are grateful to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish for their public witness in San Diego, and to St. Vincent de Paul in Philadelphia for their prayer service. The novena was an opportunity for the Ignatian family to come together prayerfully from afar as well,” said Jorge Palacios Jr., migration coordinator for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “The end of Title 42 does not mean guaranteed access to safe, legal asylum. Continued prayer and action are needed to respond to the active humanitarian situation at our border.”